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Equivalence FAQs

These Equivalence FAQs for applicants are designed to support the formal Equivalence guidance and documentation. If you have any suggestions for answers to additional FAQs, please email 

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Q. What does “equivalence” mean?

Equivalence is when two things are directly comparable although not exactly the same, because they have equal attributes such as value, significance, amount or function. In the context of education/training, qualifications and experience, equivalence is said to exist when the outcomes of two processes are directly comparable even though the paths to achieving them are different. When equivalence is shown to exist between a new qualification and the qualification or experience a person already has, further education or training becomes unnecessary.

The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) assessors are reviewing submitted evidence of knowledge, skills and competence related to people’s existing qualifications and experience against the AHCS Standards and the learning outcomes contained in the relevant National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) curriculum. When equivalence is demonstrated, a Certificate of Equivalence is issued.

The certificate confers eligibility to apply for appropriate registration with either the AHCS or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), depending on the programme level of the application.

Q. Are there Equivalence programmes for every level of NSHCS training programme?

Currently, there are three Equivalence programme levels :

  • Higher Specialist Scientist, Equivalence (HSSE)
  • Scientist Training Programme, Equivalence (STPE)
  • Practitioner Training Programme, Equivalence (PTPE)

Q. How do I undertake the equivalence process?

The complete Equivalence process including assessment is conducted on the Academy’s secure IT system, including email communications about your progress.

Q. What evidence do I need to demonstrate equivalence?

Your evidence will need to show that (a) your training, qualifications and experience are comparable to the speciality curriculum learning outcomes and (b) you adhere to all aspects of Good Scientific Practice/AHCS Standards of Proficiency.

Q. Are there any language requirements for applications from outside of the United Kingdom?

Equivalence applicants with qualifications from outside the UK and whose first language is not English must provide a language test certificate with a minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7.0 with no element less than 6.5 or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet Based Test (IBT) Minimum score of 100/120.

Where an applicant whose first language is not English holds a degree certificate from a UK university they should contact  to confirm whether an English language test certificate is required.

Q. How will the Academy assess and decide whether my existing qualification/s and experience are equivalent to the relevant NSHCS training programme?

Professional assessors determine equivalence for applicants, working in conjunction with lay assessors who act as chair of the assessment panel. The panel makes a professional and informed judgement by evaluating the evidence provided against the relevant AHCS standards and about the comparability of the applicant’s qualification and experience to the NSHCS healthcare science programme learning outcomes.

Q. At the Scientist Training Programme level, what does having a Certificate of Equivalence really mean? And how is it different from the National School of Healthcare Science Certificate of Completion?

The AHCS was granted approval by the Health and Care Professions Council to award the Certificate of Equivalence. The Certificate of Equivalence is awarded to an applicant whose evidence has demonstrated that their education and experience have equipped them with a comparable level of knowledge and skills as the NSHCS Scientist Training Programme and that they comply with all aspects of Good Scientific Practice. The NSHCS Certificate of Completion is awarded upon successful completion of a NSHCS accredited Scientist Training Programme. Certificate of Equivalence and the Certificate of Completion confer eligibility to apply to join the HCPC Register as a Clinical Scientists.

Q. I am already on a Scientist Training Programme that was not accredited when I started. How will I become registered?

The AHCS and the National School of Healthcare Science (NSHCS) have worked together to provide a process to enable trainees who began a non-accredited Scientist Training Programme to exit with an Academy Certificate that will confer eligibility to apply for HCPC registration. Please discuss this with your education provider and the NSHCS.

Q. I have been awarded Equivalence and would like to register? How can I do this?

For PTPE and HSSE programme levels, you can apply here.  For STPE, AHCS will notify HCPC of your award. You can then apply for registration directly through HCPC here. Clinical Scientist is a protected title as outlined here. Any deviation from this must be agreed with your Trust.

Q. Does AHCS have an Appeals and Complaints process?

Yes. For further information see the AHCS Appeals and Complaints Procedure for Equivalence Applications.

Appeals must be made in writing within 28 days of the date of your award.  Appeals can be made based on procedural matters related to the Equivalence process, not to the outcome of the process. If necessary, the Panel may undertake an investigation of the process which was undertaken, including receiving written statements or conducting interview

Appeals against judgements of Assessors or the ratification panel will not be considered by an Appeals Panel.

Q. Do I have to attend an interview?

The Academy reserves the right to call an applicant to interview, but only the STPE programme has an interview as an integral part of the process. Interviews are normally conducted by video-conference. Any interview will last no longer than 60 minutes.

Q. Where can I find more information?

Look at the general and specific programme guidance on the Equivalence guidance page.

The Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) and the Association of Clinical Scientists (ACS) have produced a summary guide to outline the different options available to individuals wishing to apply to obtain HCPC registration as a Clinical Scientist in the UK.

Which Route to Clinical Scientist HCPC Registration is best for me 

Q. In STP Equivalence, why do we map to the Standards in Good Scientific Practice and not the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Clinical Scientists?

We use the standards in GSP rather than the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Clinical Scientist because:

  • The standards within GSP have been designed and reviewed by, and for, healthcare scientists without having to take account of any other professions. The language of GSP is specific to healthcare science. The language used in the HCPC Standards of Proficiency, particularly the generic standards, needs to work across the 15 professions that it regulates, and often it is not entirely applicable to all the specialties within healthcare science.
  • The standards within GSP provide a framework across all levels of the healthcare science workforce therefore applicants should be familiar with GSP and its application to their level of practice prior to applying for STP Equivalence
  • We can adapt GSP to respond to changes in relation to regulation and good practice more quickly than HCPC, who have to work to the legislation that governs their work. For example, last year we refined the wording in respect of sustainability in response to a recommendation by the Professional Standards Authority, the body which oversees all health and care regulators.

Since the initial approval by HCPC in 2014, the Academy has used the standards set out in Good Scientific Practice as the basis of our assessment process. We have successfully demonstrated that the standards published in Good Scientific Practice cover all the HCPC Standards of Proficiency at each of our periodic reviews by HCPC.

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